This evening, I met with a good friend for late night tea & conversation. We have a bad habit of feeding off of each other's energy so the topics bounced across the board (with increasing gesticulation) from our present jobs to the idea of honesty as a competitive advantage to what we think of when we think about our respective future families (still a long way off), to the things that feed our minds, and then to the topic of ideas in general.

One of the things that came up--and stuck with me--was that the best ideas never arise when you are trying to have good ideas. Which is a rule that is exceedingly frustrating.

These good ideas instead pop up when you:
a. turn your mind (or body) to something seemingly unrelated and
b. never have paper

If you think about it, when was the last time you had a good idea while seated at a computer as compared to while you were out for a run, taking a shower, or in the middle of a conversation?

Another way to look at it is to think of our daily life and routines as a box. A safe, secure, and bounded box. Our creativity, however, doesn't like boxes so, in an attempt to get out, it constantly bangs against the institutionalized walls of how we "should" work to be "successful."If you picture a mouse in an exit-less maze and you've pretty much got it: lots of effort, dead ends every few turns, and no real progress of which one can speak. Rough luck, creativity (and visualized mouse).

By turning your attention to something else, however--physical activity, a different task, dreaming of joining the circus--the walls fade and your creativity can do its thaaang. Cue eureka! moment.

(or, as my family would say, "Urethra!" Bad joke. I'll stop)

Here's where it gets dicey:

We know this. We totally know this. However, like the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time), we still try to force creativity by overthinking, staring at our computer screens in the most epic staring contest known to man, and knowing that we need to do something, but not having any idea what to do, where to start, or any real motivation to do it.

Sound familiar?

Before you call it quits, call up a friend, go for a run, or start to tackle the pile of clothes on your floor. $5 says that before you're done with any of those things, you'll have the start of your much needed great idea.